Meet Author and Visual Artist:
Lynda McKinney Lambert lives and works in the Village of Wurtemburg, in rural western Pennsylvania.
- Please give us a brief outline of who you are.
I wear a variety of different hats. I use this word, hats, to describe an actual object, as well as a metaphor that portrays myself. It is a little thing – but important.
Today, I am working on P.R. for my latest poetry book, Star Signs: New and Selected Poems, just published on July 15.
Star Signs: New and Selected Poems showcases my professional career as a poet from the mid-80s and takes readers to the latest poems, written just before the book was published.
I give readers 54 poems in this collection.
2. You’re a writer and artist – how is this reflected in your typical day?
Now that I am retired from my international teaching career, my days are more flexible, even, unpredictable. I love it because I embrace randomness and chance in my life.
In my Writing Life:
I am often writing during the nights because I’ve never been one who sleeps much. I sleep in short periods of a couple of hours at a time. Typically, I am up working in my office between 2 and 5 am.
My days begin early because I have 2 dogs to take out – they like to be out by 6 or 7 am. It gets me moving, so that’s a good thing.
I do very little work after 5 pm. Evenings are my downtimes when I might watch some TV, or just listen to a book or relax. I like to sit and think – thinking takes a lot of time. You have to intend to think, and then set the time aside so you can actually do it.
In my Artist Life:
I make art only during the daytime. Because I have profound sight loss, I use an Acrobat CCTV – which is an electronic device that greatly enlarges my working area – it is a closed-circuit TV. My eyes are only able to work at this intensity in the mornings or afternoons. After that, they are too tired to work any longer. So, you won’t find me making art in the evening or night.
On the days I am making art, I like to focus only on that. I go to a place of “timelessness” in my studio and I am always unaware of the passing of the day while I am working.
Either way, my writing or art day begins after I’ve taken care of the dogs and cats. Bob will get up around 10 am, and he can take care of his own breakfast or whatever else he wants to do. We often begin to work outside in the summer months, or inside the house in cooler weather. In summertime, I tend my flower gardens. My husband takes care of the yard work.
Like everyone else, we have appointments and essential trips to different places for groceries or exercise or social communications. Typically, we go to the gym 3 mornings a week for weight resistance training or cardio workouts.
Nature is a predominant theme in my writing and my mixed-media fiber art.
I observe the day, the season, and watch for changes. I listen to the sounds of life, changing weather, and all the little details and nuances that we experience at any given day or night. I am so conscious of changing seasons, the quick turning from one to the other almost like magic.
In my writing, I describe the natural elements in my world, and in my art, I use the natural elements such as water-worn river stones; gemstones & crystals from different locations in the entire world; fabrics, and found objects. I use the objects in the art, and in my writing, I also use them as metaphors or subject matter.
Other themes in my work:
*The passing of time
*Memory as in collective memory or place
*History – searching out the historical context of ideas
*Passage or Journey; a sacred Pilgrimage from one place to another
*No separation between sacred and secular
3. Do you work at another job?
My job is to be at work when the Muse arrives.
My responsibility is to arrive at work on time each day.
When I was working as a professor of fine arts and humanities, I had to fit my writing and art-making in-between my responsibilities at the college. I wrote my first book, Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage, from my journal jottings, drawings, and research that I did each summer. I taught a month-long course, “Drawing and Writing in Salzburg.” Whatever the students were working on that day, I was working right alongside them in the classroom or in the field. We met each morning at 8 am to begin our day. By 9 am we were often on a bus on our way to a location for that morning’s creative work. Our class ended at noon (Monday through Thursday), so this gave me afternoons and weekends that were free for me to pursue my personal work. I usually travelled to a different country each weekend, where I wrote in my journals and did photography and drawings.
As a professor, I had to squeeze my personal work in-between my heavy workload during the semesters. Not only was I working on my own art and writing projects, I was also actively exhibiting my art in galleries and museums all over the world. It took a great deal of discipline to be able to do this intensive work. So, I’ve always been a person who is focused and willing to put in the hours that it takes to be successful in what I am doing. Retirement just opened up the door wider for me to create even more work because it eliminated the rigid teaching schedule I lived with for many years.
4. How did you fit in a family or ‘real life’?
I married my husband Bob, when I was seventeen years old. He was twenty.
We celebrated our 58th wedding anniversary this year.
We have 5 children and my life was completely occupied with cooking meals, doing laundry daily; managing our home and the children’s activities and needs. We were active in their school and church life. My children were the center of my life and it was important that I was there to take care of our home, and all of them. My first commitment was to my family.
My heart’s desire, was that I wanted to go to college, and I wanted to be a teacher. That part of my life would not begin until I was forty-two years old, and the children were all in high school.
My academic career began at age forty-two, and I had a single focus. I intended to “go all the way” with education. I intended to earn not only a BFA in Painting, but I would pursue the terminal degree in fine art, which is an MFA. I intended to be a college professor. I actually earned the MA in English along the way, too. I had a passion for writing and making art – so this seemed like a good idea for me. From the beginning, I worked across disciplines. And, this eventually led me to my teaching position at Geneva College, a Reformed Presbyterian college in western Pennsylvania. Because of my dual degrees in fine art and English, I was hired to use my expertise in the Humanities at the college. This work is both challenging and educational as a life-long learner. I loved doing research in my fields.
I advised students:
“Don’t give yourself permission to do less than what you have a passion for doing.
Follow your passion and your abilities – you want to do work that makes you happy to get up each morning.
You want to do what you dreamed of doing.
Never make a plan for your life out of fear. Go for your highest purpose and you will get there.”
I also believe in excellence. This does not mean I think that perfectionism is to be admired. It is not an admirable trait but perfectionism is a liability. By the word, “Excellence,” I mean to be your best. Perform at the highest level you can, and do the best job you can possibly do. That is not perfectionism. It is holding on to your highest potential and working hard to make your dream, Plan A, your reality.
In 1976, I took my first class in painting. Soon, painting was at the heart of my creative life. It was pure magic.
With 5 children and a husband to take care of. I realized from the beginning that I had to be time conscious in order to live a creative life that was separate from family obligations. We have to have our personal identity, something that is ours alone to pursue. Our “do” is not our “who,” and I’ve always believed in my purpose in life – to create beauty and to keep memories alive for others.
5. Are you very organized?
This is a tricky question to answer.
At first, I thought, yes, I am very organized.
Then upon further reflection, I thought about how we live surrounded by chaos. It is our normal condition of being a human creation. We are finite creatures; we are flawed.
How we think about chaos matters –
I think it is better if we begin to think of mastering the chaos.
A plaque in my office reads:
“Nur kleine Geister brauchen Ordnung,
ein Genie beherrscht
“Only little spirits need order,
a genius mastered
An Introduction to Lynda McKinney Lambert: https://www.lyndalambert.com/
My Books: https://llambert363.blog/lyndaslinks/
Lynda’s Media Kit: https://www.lyndalambert.com/media-kit/
“My Books” on my blog: https://www.lyndalambert.com/lyndas-books/
Listen to my poem, “To the Curator of Small Things,” in the Summer 2016 issue of Wordgathering. read by Melissa Cotter:
LINK_ to my poem and voice recording of “Star Signs: in the December 2016 issue of Wordgathering – Read by Melissa Cotter:
Lynda’s Authors Page- Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/author/lyndalambert
Lynda’s Official Authors Page: http://www.dldbooks.com/lyndalambert/
Smashwords – get my ebook: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/lyndalambert
Link to Lynda’s author Site at DLD Books:
Website & Blog: Lynda McKinney Lambert – Official Author’s Website
Scan-A-Blog – A quiet Place of Inspiration, Art, Nature, Literature
Below – Photo: “Lynda with Tamukeyama,” by Bob Lambert
Photo of Lynda – wearing one of her original hand-knit jackets in ombre shades of blues and aqua.
She is also wearing a one-of-a-kind necklace of Swarovski crystals and gem stones. She designs knit clothing, talismans, jewelry, and wall works.
Lynda is seated in front of her Tamukeyama Tree in her Zen Mediation Garden. Photo by Bob Lambert.